In May 2009, Paul was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. From May to January he channeled his prodigious creative energy into the completion of many artistic endeavours, including his first solo CD music release “Paul Quarrington The Songs” (Cordova Bay Records), the third PorkBellys Futures CD release (Crooked Road, Oct 2010), his memoir for Greystone Books “Cigar Box Banjo: Notes on Music and Life,” the documentary film inspired by the book, “Paul Quarrington: Life in Music” (BookShorts / CTV Bravo) and much more. His brave journey ended on January 21, 2010. He passed peacefully at home in Toronto in the early hours of January 21, 2010 surrounded by friends and family.
Paul’s inspiration to other artists will continue by means of the organization named in his honour. To find out more, or to contribute to the Quarrington Arts Society; visit www.quarringtonartsociety.ca
Paul Quarrington was a writer, musician, filmmaker and teacher.
Awards and Honours
FOR THE SCREEN:
- Genie Award for best screenplay for Perfectly Normal;
- Genie Award for best song – Claire (from the movie Whale Music);
- Nominated for Gemini Award for Best Writing In A Dramatic Series – Due South – All the Queen’s Horses with Paul Gross and John Krizanc
- Moose TV, Winner, CFPTA Indie Award for Best Comedy Series; Paul Quarrington Story Editor
- Pavane, winner of Platinum Remi Award, Best Adaptation, Houston WorldFest
FOR THE PAGE: Highlights: Winner of the Matt Cohen Award for a lifetime of distinguished work by a Canadian author. His novels The Ravine and Galveston were nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize; Whale Music won the Governor General?s Award for Fiction; King Leary won the Canada Reads competition 2008 and the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. Recipient (posthumously) of Doctor of Letters from Nippising University, North Bay Ontario Canada.
- Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Letters, most promising new writer in 1986;
- Periodical Distributors of Canada Authors Award;
- Stephen Leacock Award for Humour in 1987 for King Leary;
- Finalist for Trillium Book Award for King Leary in 1987;
- Governor General’s Literary Award for English Language Fiction in Canada in 1989 for Whale Music
- Short Listed For Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour in 1998 for The Boy On The Back Of The Turtle
- Short Listed for Trillium Book Award in1998 for The Boy On The Back Of The Turtle
- The Writers Guild of Canada’s Annual Top Ten Award in 2000 for “Manipulation” an episode of the television series Power Play.
- Galveston nominated for The Scotiabank Giller Prize 2004;
- Winner of Canada Reads 2008, for King Leary, defended by Dave Bidini.
- Long-listed for 2008 Scotiabank Giller Awards for The Ravine
- Winner of the 2009 Matt Cohen Award for a lifetime of distinguished work.
- Doctor of Letters from Nipissing University, North Bay Ontario Canada, June 2010.
He has been a musician from his earliest days, playing guitar, clarinet, squeeze box, bass, harp, and piano. As a composer writing alone and with others, he produced a number one single in Canada (1980 – Baby and the Blues) with Martin Worthy; toured and recorded with Canadian and famously notorious Joe Hall and The Continental Drift. He played with Porkbelly Futures for ten years, and performed his own “words and music” songs solo on guitar, or as a trio with PBF members Martin Worthy and Rebecca Campebell.
Blues, folk, rock and country music have all played important roles in Quarrington’s life. He started out playing the “blues” and he always had a bit of the genre in his work. He had a successful introduction into the music business with his first professional partner and friend – Canadian music artist Dan Hill. Later he would form a lasting association with Martin Worthy that produced their seminal a Quarrington/Worthy album, as well as hundreds of songs they wrote, performed, and recorded together over the duration of a 40-year friendship.
The guitar was his entry into the world of the blues. He quickly became accomplished on the instrument, performing for audiences around his school and later the Toronto coffee houses and pubs. Both of his brothers are still professional musicians, although in different branches of the field. His older brother, Tony, is a very gifted guitarist performing primarily in the jazz scene around his hometown of Toronto. Joel, the youngest brother, achieved a lifetime dream by becoming the principal bassist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra — a post he for many years, and now plays with the National Symphony Orchestra in Ottawa.
Paul Quarrington is a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto, Canada. He has written many screenplays and stage plays, most notably Camilla, Whale Music, Giant Steps and Perfectly Normal, the latter becoming a underground cult film. He has written and/or directed several short films, including the BookShorts film “Pavane” based on his novel The Ravine (2008); Pavane screened at numerous film festivals including Moving Stories Films (6 city tour), CIMMFest Chicago Intl Music & Movies, Houston WorldFest, NXNE Toronto, and it aired on Bravo!FACT and CBC in 2009.
Quarrington used his prodigious skills in this area through his career. He enhanced them while in attendance at the Canadian Film Centre, and writing and supervising teleplays for TV series. He was a frequent writer for “the mountie show” Due South that aired for many seasons in Canada, the US, the UK, Germany, Australia and other countries. Likewise, his writing for John Woo’s Once A Thief provided television viewers hours of fun in Canada, Germany, France, Austria and Spain. In 1998, he took his love of sport and hockey to the small screen as Executive Story Editor for the CTV Series Power Play. He was Story Editor on Moose TV for Showcase, which won the CFTPA Indie Award for best comedy series 2008. He most recently delivered on a series for Shaftsbury / TMN directed by John L’Ecuyer called Notebooks on Euphoria, and the adaption of his novel The Ravine into a series now in development.
In 2008, Quarrington’s novel The Ravine was published by Random House Canada. In the same year, his previous novel King Leary was defended by Dave Bidini and went on to win the 2008 CBC Canada Reads competition. New York Times Book Review contributor Ron Carlson observed that “what starts out to be the life story of the King of Ice changes into something more like a mystery.” Quarrington begins “tormenting King Leary with memory,” wrote Carlson, and “as the layers of memory peel away, Leary is wide-eyed at what he finds his life has been, and he moves toward atonement.”
Whale Music followed Logan in Overtime, another hockey setting fit to paint Quarrington’s picture of life on the dreary side of success. In Whale Music, Quarrington’s protagonist is one Desmond Howell, a reclusive, overweight, aging, mega-successful rock star bearing some resemblance to the Beach Boy’s Brian Wilson. The novel won Quarrington a Governor’s General Award for fiction, and was made into a successful motion picture.
2004 saw the publication of Galveston, a book he described (in characteristic understatement) as “being about the weather.” In the Globe & Mail, F. Rigelhof expands by saying, “Buy Galveston right now, but save it for a rainy day — a really rainy day. Paul Quarrington’s ninth novel is a terrific, brilliant, near-perfect piece of vacation reading for that inevitable low in every holiday when black clouds gather, the sky turns to thunder, plans fall apart and a paper world is preferable to the real one. Galveston will keep you engrossed page by page until daylight fades, the power goes out or a bottle of wine gets the better of you. Then, at the end, you’ll be swept away imagining its survivors doing what the last sentence says they do as they “rode these rafts upon the waves until they came to the shore of a small island where the natives, naked and smiling, greeted them with gifts.” The book has been optioned by Peter Lynch for development as a feature film.
Civilization (about film making early in Hollywood’s history) and The Boy on the Back of the Turtle (a non-fiction account of a trip to the Galapagos Islands with his father and his young daughter), were released to great media acclaim and fan delight.
The Spirit Cabinet was released in 1999 and immediately received high praise from the literary press. There was a bit of a back-lash from the magician’s camp because there is a feeling that he “gave away” the secrets to magical illusions. However, the few secrets that he may have offered are mixed with the secrets of fictional proportion and flights of the imagination — Magic is still safe.
The word ’sport’ had special meaning to Paul Quarrington; he wrote about sports in both his fictional and non-fiction works. He was never a competitive athlete himself, he was a great sportsman. He tried his hand at hockey – stealing pond time under the shadows at midnight, skating on lonely downtown rinks surrounded by friends and would-be teachers. Weight-lifting was at which he did well, as well and long distance running. He completed several marathon races and for years ran daily in and around his neighbourhood and while on the road. While he did not aspire to become a professional athlete, he knows what it takes to be one.
Of his fictional work, Home Game is about baseball; King Leary and Logan In Overtime are about hockey; and Life Of Hope is based on fishing. His non-fiction works are also centered primarily on sports and sportsmanship. Hometown Heroes is a set of tales of his personal accounts with the real-life hockey players who represented their country by playing for Canada’s National Hockey Team. Fishing With My Old Guy proclaims Quarrington’s love of fishing. And he returned to hockey again with Original Six where he edited six stories by well known writers based on the special hockey era that preceded the 1967 NHL expansion.
Dabbling in the graphic arts over the years, Quarrington created several wonderful paintings that grace the walls of lucky people all over the country.
Quarrington regularly supported benefits for a whole host of non-profit organization, and was actively involved with several groups and issues, some ofwhich include the following:
- Board Member of Fringe Theatre Toronto
- Film Curator for BookShorts’ Moving Stories Film Festival
- Frequent guest of Harbourfront International Reading Series in Toronto
- Chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada
- Board Member of PEN Canada
Paul Lewis Quarrington was born July 22, 1953, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was the second son of Bruce Joseph (a psychologist and a pioneer programmer of computers) and Mary Ormiston (nee Lewis) also a psychologist. He claimed that much of what he is today is attributed to his parents both being psychologists. He spent his teen years in the suburb of Don Mills, and attended the University of Toronto from 1970 to 1972. Paul is survived by his two children; Carson Lara and Flannery.